Children are owed a special duty under Illinois premises liability laws. The “Attractive Nuisance” doctrine defines and assesses this duty of a landowner. Basically, this legal doctrine maintains that a landowner will be liable for the injuries of a child when the child is lured onto the landowner’s property and injured by an artificial condition on that property. A child injured on another’s property may be entitled to significant damages for his or her injuries.
Landowners need to be mindful of broken playgrounds, fences in disrepair, dangerous construction zones and other areas that can serve as “attractive nuisances” and lure children onto property. Children are curious by nature, and they often don’t comprehend the full danger of playing in an area marked off for construction or a playground with broken swings. Even a child injured at friend’s home may be able to recover under this legal doctrine. It is up to a landowner to anticipate the possibility that children may trespass onto his or her property and make necessary repairs as a result.
If your child has been injured by an “attractive nuisance” on the property of another, then you can set up a free initial consultation with our Illinois premises liability lawyers today. Our lawyers are happy to meet with you and discuss whether you may have a valid legal claim on behalf of your child. No child should have to suffer injuries due to an attractive nuisance that was not properly maintained by a landowner.
In-Depth Look at the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
The “attractive nuisance” doctrine imposes a duty on landowners to assess the risk that certain property conditions pose to children. Under this legal doctrine, a landowner must assess the foreseeability of risk to children on the premises and weigh that against the expense of repairing the dangerous conditions. In the case of Mt. Zion State Bank & Trust v. Consol. Commc’ns, Inc., 169 Ill.2d 110, (1995), the court held that the attractive nuisance doctrine still played a significant role under Illinois law for the purpose of determining a landowner’s duty of care.
However, the duty owed by landowners does have certain limitations under the attractive nuisance doctrine. A landowner need not take precautions to repair property when the risk of danger is obvious to the child. The law assumes that there are certain risks a child is expected to appreciate and avoid. These risks include steep falls, fire, thin ice, climbing a tree and diving into water with fluctuating water levels.
In some cases, it may not be clear whether a risk would be obvious to a child. It may also not be clear whether a landowner could foresee that a child would come onto the premises and could be harmed by the condition. These difficult cases require legal expertise and a lawyer’s analysis of the facts of the case. A lawyer must analyze the case and then persuade a judge or jury as to the factors that may sway them to be in favor of the child as opposed to the landowner. If a child is under the age of six, then this could be a factor that could be considered in finding that the child was unable to appreciate the risk posed by an artificial condition.
Assessing Damages in Attractive Nuisance Cases
One of the other difficult aspects of handling attractive nuisance cases is determining the award of damages that should be provided to a child. A child likely suffers high medical expenses after he or she is injured by an artificial condition, such as electric shock, fracture or other injury.
However, a child may be entitled to receive damages that exceed medical expenses. Often, children have recurring nightmares and suffer from psychological trauma after they are injured by an attractive nuisance. If this is the case, then the child may be able to recover additional damages for pain and suffering.
Here are the damages that may be available in attractive nuisance cases when a child is injured:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
Expert testimony may be required in attractive nuisance cases. An attorney may need to locate a child psychologist who can attest to the extent of a child’s trauma.
Contact an Illinois Lawyer Specializing in Attractive Nuisance Cases Today
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our Illinois premises liability attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers if you have a child injured on another’s property. Even if you have a child injured at friend’s home, you may still be able to recover damages– without any financial burden to your friend. It is important that these types of cases be filed in a timely manner in the event that they cannot be settled outside of court. Call our lawyers today to learn more about whether you and your child have a valid legal claim.